Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thoughts on Improving Employee Engagement

In reviewing the article from Gallup, "Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now" there are a couple of key takeaways we should keep in mind when trying to raise employee engagement and satisfaction.
"If employees truly are a company's best asset, then their care and support should be a priority."
This is often given lip service by management but when it is it is seen for just that quickly by the team members. Employee support needs to happen from the top down and be measured from the ground up.
"Each person's potential extends well beyond his or her job description. And tapping that potential means recognizing how an employee's unique set of beliefs, talents, goals, and life experiences drives his or her performance, personal success, and well-being."
Building profiles of team member's skill sets and experiences, even when not applicable to their current work, is an excellent way to help plan for their growth and future success. Understand the people not just how they fit their job descriptions you'll have a much better perspective on what is necessary to keep them engaged.
"Real change occurs at the local workgroup level, but it happens only when company leaders set the tone from the top."
We often forget even though the work occurs "in the trenches" that management and support needs to be done from there as well. We can't expect people to accept guidance from "on high" when they don't feel the people providing that guidance have any real connection or insight into their daily struggles. As the old saying goes, "think globally, act locally."
"Companies should coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, hold managers accountable, track their progress, and ensure that they continuously focus on emotionally engaging their employees."
Companies spend time, effort, and money training their managers how to get the most productivity from their people as well as dealing with non-performers. A fraction of that is spent on keeping people engaged and positively focused on their contributions to their team and the company as a whole. We assume some of this is common sense, but in practicality it fails to be so. Taking time to develop an organization wide strategy around engagement and satisfaction can reap substantial benefits in the long term for both team members and the organization as a whole.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Six Keys to Employee Engagement shared an article about "10 Simple Secrets You Need to Know about Employee Engagement" and in reviewing it I found some of the common ideas you would expect about engagement, but there were also some key takeaways I highlighted in the piece:
"Management transparency has a direct 94 percent correlation with employee happiness. Trusting employees with sensitive information gives them a sense of deeper investment in the company and helps to create a more cooperative team atmosphere, as opposed to an “us versus them” perception of the management-employee relationship."
There's no question in my mind that the sharing of information whenever possible is a good thing.  A lack of information creates a void, and the universe hates a void.  It will be filled with misinformation, doubt, and uncertainty in short order...all things an organization doesn't want to spend time dealing with.
"managers and the C-suite must be accessible and visible around the office, so that employees see them as approachable and available for guidance and assistance, rather than locked away in some protected area."
The old chestnut of the "open-door policy" needs more than lip service.  For many people, approaching senior management with ideas and concerns is a scary prospect. They'd rather not rock the boat and suffer in silence.  Making that outreach as a manager or better yet having part of your organization acting as an ombudsman for your staff can go a long way to opening those doors.
 "publicly recognize employees for their contributions and achievements."
We often think that the "pat on the head" can be condescending and we'd rather real rewards for our effort.  While there is merit to the increases and bonuses, I can't find a single person who doesn't appreciate being recognized for doing a good job. No matter how cynical a person is, deep down inside there is a little spark from that acknowledgement, if it is sincere and not handed out capriciously.
"Employees with supportive supervisors are 1.3 times more likely to stay with the company and are 67 percent more engaged."
In many organizations the perception of the manager is to evaluate, drive, and push their reports to higher levels of achievement.  Nothing could be further from the concept of engagement. Leading people through supporting them, helping clear obstacles, and providing lines of growth for their team makes a manager more than just the title.
"New employees start with enthusiasm and curiosity, so capitalize on that momentum by putting them right to work, helping them to get to know their co-workers or pairing them with a mentor."
Thinking back to your first day on any job, you can remember the anxiety of not being 100% confident in knowing what is expected of you, who to go to for help, and how to make the best first impressions.  Keeping that mindset as an organization and putting into place the structures and people to help new members ease in as efficiently and smoothly as possible goes a long way to setting a positive tone and mindset for those new people.
"it comes down to the Golden Rule: Treat people as you’d want to be treated. And, save your money on those expensive consultants, programs and other productized approaches. Compassion, mutual respect, kindness and flexibility don’t cost a thing."
It can sound trite, but it's true.  Making sure your fellow team members are treated the way you would want to be treated and ensuring that happens every day rather than infrequently can make all the difference in creating and keeping employee engagement.

Friday, May 13, 2016

What happens when Google can't make up their mind

Google Bookmarks vs. Google Save vs. Google Keep - There's a product in there somewhere

Google has always been good at bringing out products with features we want. Unfortunately they've got a less than spectacular track record at getting all those features into one product.  For example the trio of Google Keep, Google Save, and Google Bookmarks when it comes to keeping track of web content for reference.

Google Bookmarks has been around quite a while as part of the Chrome browser.  Easy to capture but not the cleanest interface when it comes to organizing your bookmarks (especially when trying to decide what the old bookmarks are that you captured years ago.)

Google Save is the new kid on the block as part of a Chrome extension.  You can capture and label links, with the result looking remarkably similar to Pinterest.  It's still feature limited for now, but you can see the potential of where they're headed.

Google Keep is gaining traction with the addition of the Keep Chrome extension for capturing and labeling links. The extension doesn't grab images nor is it easy to add new labels but it's a start.

To really make this work they need to cherry pick the best features from these three:
  • The list view from Google Bookmarks (with a tree structure for labels and updates)
  • The image view from Google Save when it comes to captured bookmarks
  • Storing all these in Google Keep for sharing and organizing
Here's my prediction...likely to be wrong but what the heck:
  • Google Save will be merged into Google Keep
  • Google Bookmarks will be retained for those who don't want to use Google Keep
What do you think?